Hurricane Sandy update from NYSVMS executive director

Jennifer Mauer, executive director of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS), found herself standing under blue skies in Albany, New York, the morning of Oct. 30.

In the sky to her left, she saw enormous dark clouds that hinted at the dire state of things in other parts of New York as Hurricane Sandy continued its assault.

While people in Albany marveled at how relatively unscathed they were, Mauer said she was slowly getting a clearer picture of how critical things were elsewhere through news coverage and contact with other NYSVMS members, family members, and professional contacts in surrounding states.

Mauer took the time to update NEWStat on what she has seen and heard since Hurricane Sandy made its landfall on the Eastern shore.

Dealing with the big one
“I actually used to work for an insurance agent association, and statistically they were waiting for the big one to come through,” Mauer said. “Only time will tell, but this could end up being such the case.”

In New York, she said, “The subways were down, all of the bridges were down, tunnels were getting closed at two in the afternoon, and the whole city was just at a complete standstill.”

Even the New York Stock Exchange had closed its doors in response to the so-called “Frankenstorm,” which sent cars floating down the city’s deserted streets.

Yahoo! reported that a higher-than-expected storm surge left 17 people dead in New York as of Oct. 30. A subsequent fire reportedly burned 50 houses in Queens.

According to the Wall Street Journal, economic damages from the storm could amount to between $10 million and $20 million, as well as affect 20% of the United States population.

A storm that really hits home
“I also am born and raised in Philadelphia, and I have friends in Jersey. It’s very, very personal for me because this has always been the storm that since the mid-’80s we’ve been waiting for to hit New Jersey,” Mauer said.

Mauer said NYSVMS is currently trying to assess the hurricane's early impact on association members, but she has heard from the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association that “things are just a disaster down there.”

“I’m getting reports from North Jersey coastal areas, but from Atlantic City and points south we’ve heard nothing other than what we can get from family members,” Mauer said. “So I have a feeling that those coastal towns in Southern Jersey are just going to be completely devastated.”

She said her family in Philadelphia has reported “magnificent” flooding and power outages the likes of which they have never seen before, and she speculated that the Hudson Valley, Long Island, and New Jersey were catching the brunt of the storm at the time.

Widespread power outages
Even though Mauer said she has heard that New York might not have power until early next week, and that New Jersey might have to wait until the end of this week, she has seen some encouraging signs.

According to Yahoo!, it could take up to a week to restore power to the estimated 2.3 million people in New York who were without it as of Oct. 30.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania also had high numbers of power outages, at 2.5 million and 1.2 million, respectively.

Transportation problems
Mauer shared the latest transportation news on the afternoon of Oct. 30, which indicated that buses in New York City would be running on a limited schedule by 5 p.m. According to the Wall Street Journal, most of the city’s bridges were also about to reopen.

The subway system will take longer to open because of the vast water damage it sustained. According to the Wall Street Journal, one subway station in lower Manhattan still has water up to its ceiling. There is currently no timeline for when the subway will reopen.

Stay tuned to NEWStat
NEWStat will continue to post news updates about Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the veterinary community in storm-affected states as they become available. In the meantime, you can always share your own stories and photos on the AAHA Facebook page.